SHAPE OF THE EARTH IS SPHERICAL
In early times, people believed that the earth was flat. For centuries, men were afraid to venture out too far, for fear of falling off the edge! Sir Francis Drake was the first person who proved that the earth is spherical when he sailed around it in 1597. Consider the following Qur’anic verse regarding the alternation of day and night:
“Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and He merges Day into Night?” [Al-Qur’an 31:29]
Merging here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night. The following verse also alludes to the spherical shape of the earth:
“He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night.”[Al-Qur’an 39:5]
The Arabic word used here is Kawwara meaning ‘to overlap’ or ‘to coil’– the way a turban is wound around the head. The overlapping or coiling of the day and night can only take place if the earth is spherical. The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical, i.e. it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth’s shape:
“And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg shaped.” [Al-Qur’an 79:30]
The Arabic word for egg here is dahaahaa1 which means an ostrich-egg. The shape of an ostrich-egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth. Thus the Qur’an correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Qur’an was revealed was that the earth was flat.
MOUNTAINS ARE LIKE TENT PEGS
In geology, the phenomenon of ‘folding’, is a recently discovered fact. Folding is responsible for the formation of mountain ranges. The earth’s crust, on which we live, is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life. It is also known that the stability of the mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding, for it was the folds that were to provide foundations for the reliefs that constitute the mountains. Geologists tell us that the radius of the Earth is about 6,035 km and the crust on which we live is very thin, ranging between 2 to 35 km. Since the crust is thin, it has a high possibility of shaking. Mountains act like stakes or tent pegs that hold the earth’s crust and give it stability. The Qur’an contains exactly such a description:
“Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs?” [Al-Qur’an 78:6-7]
The word awtaad means stakes or pegs (like those used to anchor a tent); they are the deep foundations of geological folds. A book entitled ‘Earth’ is regarded as a basic reference textbook on geology in many universities around the world. One of the authors of this book is Dr. Frank Press, who was the President of the Academy of Sciences in the USA for 12 years and was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter. In this book, he illustrates the mountain in a wedge-shape and the mountain itself as a small part of the whole, whose root is deeply entrenched in the ground.1 According to Dr. Press, the mountains play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth. The Qur’an clearly mentions the function of the mountains in preventing the earth from shaking:
“And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them.” [Al-Qur’an 21:31]2
The Qur’anic descriptions are in perfect agreement with modern geological data.
LIFESTYLE AND COMMUNICATION OF ANTS
“And before Solomon were marshalled his hosts –of Jinns and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks.“At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said : ‘O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it.’” [Al-Qur’an 27:17-18]
In the past, some people would have probably mocked at the Qur’an, taking it to be a book of fairy tales in which ants talk to each other and communicate sophisticated messages. In recent times however, research has shown us several facts about the lifestyle of ants, which were not known earlier to humankind. Research has shown that the animals or insects whose lifestyle is closest in resemblance to the lifestyle of human beings are the ants. This can be seen from the following findings regarding ants:
(a) The ants bury their dead in a manner similar to the humans.
(b) They have a sophisticated system of division of labour, whereby they have managers, supervisors, foremen, workers, etc.
(c) Once in a while they meet among themselves to have a ‘chat’.
(d) They have an advanced method of communication among themselves.
(e) They hold regular ‘markets’ where they exchange goods.
(f) They store grain for long periods in winter and if the grain begins to bud, they cut the roots, as if they understand that if they leave it to grow, it will rot. If the grain stored by them gets wet due to rains, they take it out into the sunlight to dry, and once dry, they take it back inside as though they know that humidity will cause development of root systems which will cause the grain to rot.
FOETUS PROTECTED BY THREE VEILS OF DARKNESS
“He makes you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.” [Al-Qur’an 39:6]
According to Prof. Keith Moore, these three veils of darkness in the Qur’an refer to:
(i) anterior abdominal wall of the mother
(ii) the uterine wall
(iii) the amnio-chorionic membrane.
SENSE OF HEARING AND SIGHT
The first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light. The Qur'an explains it thus:
“And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding).” [Al-Qur’an 32:9]
“Verily We created man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight.” [Al-Qur’an 76:2]
“It is He Who has created for you (the faculties of) hearing, sight, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give!” [Al-Qur’an 23:78]
In all these verses the sense of hearing is mentioned before that of sight. Thus the Qur’anic description matches perfectly with the discoveries in modern embryology.
PAIN RECEPTORS IN THE SKIN
It was thought that the sense of feeling and pain was dependent only on the brain. Recent discoveries however prove that there are pain receptors present in the skin, without which a person would not be able to feel pain. When a doctor examines a patient suffering from burn injuries, he verifies the degree of burns by a pinprick. If the patient feels pain, the doctor is happy, because it indicates that the burns are superficial and the pain receptors are intact. On the other hand, if the patient does not feel any pain, it indicates that it is a deep burn and the pain receptors have been destroyed. The Qur’an gives a clear indication of the existence of pain receptors in the following verse:
“Those who reject our signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire; as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the Penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” [Al-Qur’an 4:56]
Prof. Tagatat Tejasen, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, has spent a great amount of time on research of pain receptors. Initially he could not believe that the Qur’an mentioned this scientific fact 1,400 years ago. He later verified the translation of this particular Qur’anic verse. Prof. Tejasen was so impressed by the scientific accuracy of the Qur’anic verse, that at the 8th Saudi Medical Conference held in Riyadh on the Scientific Signs of Qur’an and Sunnah, he proudly proclaimed in public: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is His Messenger.”